Closer to the summit than a month ago, but with another miss I'm convinced I need to drop this one from my to-do list even though it remains undone.
By now, with 2 previous recons I had the route down almost to memory (such as it is) and felt it was simply a matter of getting it done. While the first 49% went great and I was well ahead of schedule, I guess all good things must come to an end
. One moment I was on what I felt was stable ground, the next, I wasn't... but with only a small area of ground moving before it stopped, just as I lifted up my hiking poles to dig in to make sure I had enough traction to resume, a huge section of ground gave way. And since I was leaning forward about to dig the poles in hard, I fell, and fell hard
While it was a good thing I didn't slide very far down after hitting the ground, the damage was already done... the right wrist, thigh & ankle along with the chest took the brunt of the hit. And for once I was thankful I had my new camera squirreled away in my pack than on my chest, which I usually do. I may have ruined the camera while putting a dent in my breastplate.
Time to take stock of the situation... The wrist feels like it was on fire, as though well-sprained if not broken, my right hand and thigh had a batch of cholla spines hammered in thoroughly yet broken off (now a day later there's a bunch of infected red spots bearing witness), putting weight on my right ankle was quite painful, which with the gimp wrist meant I could use the right pole as a crutch.
I sat for a full 5 minutes contemplating the extent of my injuries before deciding what to do next... finish the last few hundred vertical feet, or turn around AGAIN? Being so close
I wanted to come-hell-or-high-water
suck it up and hit the summit, but even now I'm whipped enough it'll be a chore even now.
Thinking back to last June when I had a big crash-and-burn early on during my El Recortado East & West hike, yet I persevered and got the job done... so let's give it a go. But after taking almost 10 minutes to climb just under a hundred feet, I knew reaching the summit today just wasn't gonna happen. And in fact, I wondered how I'd make it the 3.5 miles back to the car.
Well I'll be darned if I hadn't jinxed myself by packing Ibuprofen this trip, something I've never done before. Fortuitous or not, I downed it, hoping it may provide some respite from the pain while I did all I could mentally to ignore the worst of the pain enough to hobble along.
And now began the long trek back. Funny how I thought I had the best routes mapped out from previous recons and this trip out to Sheep, but now in need of the shortest, easiest route back I managed to find just that. Still, I stopped many times to catch my breath, I believe more due to the unrelenting pain than the actual physical effort.
But after a few stops I realized it was harder to get going each time, so for the last mile or so (including two ascents and one steep descent) I just took on the mantra of picking a spot 50 feet ahead, telling myself I could make it that far, and did that 50' one-step-at-a-time
Whew! Back to the Jeep and I just want to get out of here! But wait, one more problem to raise it's ugly head... I could not believe that after having the whole front axle beefed up with trusses and boxing-in the knuckles, the right upper suspension mount broke off the truss. Of course it was the new weak-spot... although it wasn't supposed to be that weak. (I've since found out the super heavy-duty mount was on back-order so for the time being something similar to factory original was used. I can't wait for the back-order so Monday we'll just make one.)
So it was a slower than-normal drive back home.
Weird, but now today, the only pain I have (other than the normal on-going stuff) is from the cholla spines under the skin. And of course, on the right hand they just happen to be where they are the most aggravating, the gripping surfaces of the thumb and index finger.
No photos or videos this trip... due to the circumstances I was in no mood for any.
[Edit] Due to popular demand (at least one request anyway) I added a photoset of 2 photos.